Adidas, Nau, REI, Timberland are among the latest outdoor-apparel brands to rally around the Responsible Down Standard, according to an announcement at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Originally developed by The North Face, but now managed by the the nonprofit Textile Exchange, the global animal-welfare and traceability standard uses an established chain-of-custody process to help companies source down from ducks and geese that haven’t been forced-fed (a common practice in foie-gras production) or live-plucked for their feathers.
The RDS, which celebrates its first anniversary this month, also announced the launch of its first revision, now available for public comment.
“The many brands and companies that have signed on to RDS deserve credit for their commitment. I’m proud of the scale that we have achieved with the RDS, and the incredible energy that our International Working Group has put into the revision,” says Anne Gillespie, director of industry integrity at Textile Exchange, in a statement. “We anticipate further strong growth, particularly as we move into the home and bedding markets. Our goal is to protect the welfare of as many ducks and geese as possible.”
The RDS, created for industry use, was designed to prevent “unnecessary harm” to birds raised for food and industrial purposes. Its primary mandate is preventing practices such as live-plucking or force-feeding, while maintaining certain standards of food and water quality, housing, stock density and outdoor access, animal health, hygiene, and and pest and predator control.
But not everyone is a fan of down, no matter its provenance. Speaking on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 2012, actress and animal-rights activist Alicia Silverstone decried down as a “product of cruelty to birds.”
“We like to imagine that birds are walking around and their feathers are falling off and we just collect them in little baskets and be so lovely,” Silverstone said in a video for the animal-rights group. “That ain’t happening.”